Appeal from the Circuit Court of Randolph County; the Hon.
Kenneth J. Juen, Judge, presiding.
JUSTICE KASSERMAN DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Defendant, Jacob Bramlett, was charged by information with the offense of murder. (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1981, ch. 38, par. 9-1(a)(1).) Defendant was found guilty as charged by a jury in the circuit court of Randolph County and was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 50 to 100 years. On appeal, defendant contends (1) that the circuit court improperly refused to allow a defense witness to testify as to whether that witness would believe the sworn testimony of the State's chief witness and (2) that the prosecutor's comments during closing argument deprived defendant of a fair trial.
Because defendant does not challenge the sufficiency of the evidence against him, a complete recitation of the facts adduced at trial is unnecessary, and we will detail below as necessary only those facts related to the issues raised by defendant. We first address defendant's contention that the circuit court improperly refused to allow a defense witness to testify as to whether that witness would believe the sworn testimony of the State's chief witness.
Defendant's ex-wife, Anna Bramlett, testified that defendant had admitted killing the victim. In order to impeach her testimony, defendant called a witness, Vera Cross, to testify as to the bad general reputation of Ms. Bramlett for truth and veracity in the community. The relevant portions of the report of proceedings containing Mrs. Cross' testimony are as follows:
"Q. [Defense Counsel] Do you know Anna Bramlett.
Q. And how long have you known Anna Bramlett?
A. Oh, I'd say about 6 to 7 years.
Q. Are you familiar with Anna Bramlett's reputation for being truthful among the persons and neighbors in Ava?
A. Well, she's not a truthful person.
[State's Attorney]: Objection, Judge.
Q. Please answer my question.
The Court: Objection is sustained and the jury is instructed to disregard the last answer of the witness. Proceed.
Q. Are you familiar with Anna Bramlett's reputation for being truthful among the persons, friends, and neighbors she socializes with in Ava?
Q. Are you familiar with that reputation, Mrs. Cross?
A. Yes, I've heard of it, you know, her reputation.
Q. What is her reputation? Would you please ...